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IMAGINATIVE CHARMER WAS ONLY LYIN’

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You'd have to wonder about a guy who claimed he was a CIA spy, a mobster, a doctor, the Army's youngest major general, Elvis Presley's pal and a hero who rescued scores of POWs from Vietnam.

His girlfriend did, and after she checked Robert S. Lyons' story with the Secret Service, they arrested him.Lyons, a 35-year-old Mission, Kan., salesman of water purification systems, pleaded guilty in July to impersonating a CIA agent and a major general and was sentenced Tuesday to 15 months of psychiatric treatment.

U.S. District Judge Earl E. O'Connor said Lyons has "a history of falsehoods that can't be substantiated other than through his words."

Lyons' ex-girlfriend, Beth Hannah of Overland Park, said Lyons was charming, quick-witted and full of stories.

"He was a gentleman," she said. "He always held the door open."

Hannah, 45, nearly married him, and Cindy Cohen, 35, also of Overland Park, did. Both suffered financially for believing his stories and both attended his sentencing.

"He was a master of manipulation," Cohen said, "an absolute master."

"He would make a tremendous writer," Hannah said. "It's a waste."

Cohen recalled, "Robert was constantly lying. He would go from day to day, minute to minute, building one story on another."

Lyons left the Army as a private, but he wrote an article about himself in a bogus newsletter.

The story recounts how General Lyons led a commando team in 1983 to Southeast Asia, rescued 285 prisoners of war and returned with the remains of 300 servicemen. It said he received two Medals of Honor and was awaiting a third.

When Lyons confessed that he had lied about his life, Cohen threw him out of their house, divorced him and later had the marriage annulled.

Hannah said she became suspicious when a neighbor saw Lyons' resume and doubted his claims. The neighbor called the CIA.